Just as your car needs adequate fuel to cover the journey, your body also needs a supply of fuel in the form of glucose to stay energized during your hiking or backpacking trip.
The human body stores this fuel in the form of glycogen (stored sugar) accumulated in your body during your meals. The liver, with the help of skeletal muscles, then uses this stored glycogen to generate glucose that is then distributed by the blood stream to the heart, brain and other parts of the body as fuel for the cells to operate.
Maintaining energy levels throughout your backpacking hiking trip requires some planning, preparation and then efficient execution. After all, you do not want to run out of fuel while driving your car. The Same principle applies to your body.
Read on for some of the ways by which you can maintain a steady supply of energy to your body and stay energized during your next outdoor trip.
Tips for staying energized during outdoor trip
The tips for staying energized during hiking or backpacking can be divided into six steps as listed below:
Always plan ahead
Planning ahead of your hiking trip is as essential as it is rudimentary. This means that you gain knowledge of the distance you would be covering, the terrain that you will encounter, the sources of hydration available on the trail and the most suitable rest points. You can often do this by studying the trail maps and reading through the information and experiences of other hikers. Nowadays, you can get some great smartphone apps that store these maps and information on your phone. These apps, such as one by National Geographic and AllTrails are available for both iOS and Android platforms.
Once you have a decent understanding of the trail, you can rely on some math to determine average energy (in the number of calories) that you would need to complete the trail. This computation depends upon your weight, pace and trail type among other things. You can try out the Northwest Hiker’s Calorie Calculator for a rough estimate. Always estimate on the higher side, considering you may need that extra energy in case of inclement weather conditions.
After have determined your energy requirement, you should make adequate preparation for your journey. What this means is that you ensure that your body has enough energy stored before and during your hike. While preparing for your trip, stick to a healthy and proper diet, rich in carbohydrates, proteins, and some fats. Do not overeat, as that would mean that the body will have to work extra to extract energy. You can consider adding protein supplements to your regimen. Some options available in the market are listed below:
- Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder
- Reserveage – Grass Fed Whey Protein
- Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard
Once you are ready for the trip, ensure that you pack sufficient food and water for your trip. In addition to regular dried fruit and vegetables, whole grain energy bars excellent food items to carry. Some of the popular options to consider are listed below:
If your metabolism is in perfect shape, you can also look at carrying some high-calorie density foods (calorie count per ounce), as the total weight that you may need to carry would be less. Lard and fish oil tablets, Macadamia Nuts and other dry fruits and chocolate products are excellent high calorie density foods.
Catch the signs
As you start your journey, it is important to keep a track of how your body is holding up to the rigors of enhanced physical activity. It is perfectly fine to continue your hike even if you are feeling a little tired, or sweating normally. However, if you start feeling dizzy (low blood pressure) or experience profuse sweating, you should capture these signs and rest immediately. Such situations are more common during winters, as the body tends to spend more energy in keeping it warm during cold weather.
Don’t push yourself
Many people have the wrong notion that the body should be pushed till total exhaustion before taking a break. However, if you are feeling dehydrated or have extremely low energy levels, it is a good idea to give yourself a break, even if you have not reached your planned location. Take off your backpack, take deep breaths to loosen your body, rehydrate with electrolyte-rich water, have a small snack bar and then continue further.
Ensure proper hydration
Maintaining high energy levels is not totally about foods. Having adequate water in the body is equally important as it ensures proper blood circulation. During hiking, the body can sweat out around 500 ml (0.5 quarts) of water every hour. So you have to cover this loss and ensure that you have proper hydration throughout your trip. You can carry electrolyte rich or plain water in a bottle or hydration pack so that you can have it during breaks. If the trail has natural water resources, you can use a personal water filter to fill in your water resources. Check on our article on how to stay hydrated for more information and tips.
Follow the regimen
Maintaining a regimen during your trip is often a good idea. Have your meals at the regular and recommended timeframe. Skipping meals can actually lead to more energy consumption by the body. It is better to have smaller meals during the hike, as the digestion is easy. Many hikers prefer to do some snacking in the middle through trail mixes as they cover the trail. You can simply have some dry fruit rich trail mixes in your pocket and eat it periodically. Some trail mix options are listed below:
In the preceding section, we looked at some of the ways by which you can maintain your energy levels and stay energized during your hiking or backpacking trip. We looked at some additional items that you can carry with regular food and water supplies. Do let us know how you found this article and if there is anything else you want us to consider. Now, as they say, G is for “Give it a try” on your next outdoor trip!